As the 2020 legislative session begins, I wanted to update you on a number of my policy accomplishments from this past session! It was an extremely productive year of law making - I sponsored over 97 pieces of legislation that were signed into law, 36 of which, I was a primary sponsor on.
Below are some of the highlights of priorities I have been working on with my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate that were recently signed into law by Governor Murphy.
The bill package draws upon recommendations in the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) report regarding hospital-related oversight and accountability in New Jersey. The legislation will give broader oversight capabilities to the Department of Health (DOH), require hospitals to provide additional financial information to the DOH, and will allow the Commissioner of Health to notify elected officials if certain hospitals are found to be in financial distress.
While this is a major step in the right direction, I will continue to advocate for and do everything in my power to protect our community’s access to health care.
The fight to save Bayonne Medical Center is not over yet.
Misclassification hurts workers and law-abiding businesses, in order to perform more comprehensive investigations, data sharing is essential. Part of a larger bill package, A5842 will permit the Division of Taxation to share with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development any information, including tax information statements, reports, audit files, returns, or reports of any investigation.
One of the most important pieces of environmental protection legislation to be signed into law this session was A839, which bans offshore oil and gas exploration and its production in New Jersey’s ocean waters. Additionally, the bill prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from issuing any permits and approvals for any development associated with offshore drilling in state waters or outside state waters.
I along with Assemblymembers Mazzeo and Land introduced the bill in response to President Trump’s pro-pollution Executive Order No.13795, which encourages oil and natural gas production off the Atlantic coast. Along with addressing crucial environmental, public health and ecosystem conservation concerns, A839 also protects the future of our shore’s tourism economy which is worth $44 billion annually and attracts millions of visitors each year.
Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform
Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize (potentially keep or sell) property they allege has been involved in a crime. The property is “guilty”- not the person who the property is taken from, the owner of the property may never even be charged with a crime.
My bipartisan legislation A4970, which was supported by ACLU-NJ, Citizen Action, Legal Services of New Jersey, Drug Policy Alliance, Latino Action Network, and a variety of faith programs and organizations, will revise procedures related to certain asset forfeiture proceedings and will require a criminal conviction for forfeiture of certain seized property.
The government cannot be allowed to seize property without due process. The way our current civil forfeiture system works is unconstitutional and vulnerable to potential abuses, I am excited that we are taking the issue seriously and legislating meaningful reform.
Protecting Our Health Care
With the Trump Administration’s relentless attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would raise costs for consumers and leave thousands of New Jerseyans without coverage, my colleagues and I sponsored a package of bills to safeguard the provisions of the ACA in the Garden State.
Signed into law by the Governor this week, my bill S626 clarifies that a health insurer shall not impose, or include in its insurance policies, any provision excluding coverage because of a preexisting condition. The bill also provides that an insurer shall not include any preexisting conditions as a factor in calculating the cost of the premium for policy holders.
This important update sends a clear message that we in New Jersey believe health care is not a privilege, but a right.
I am proud of the work we as a legislative body have carried out over the past 2 years, I look forward to continuing to make meaningful progress throughout this new legislative session.
Thank you for your continued support.